My uncle was a night watchman,’ says Cheryl Griffith, chief security officer at Toowoomba’s court house. ‘But when I was first interested in becoming a security officer, women were not accepted in the business.’
Years later, when the industry finally opened its doors to women, Ms Griffith wasted no time in answering her call of duty. Determined to follow in her uncle’s footsteps, Ms Griffith worked hard to obtain her security license. But once qualified potential employers made comments like, ‘You’ve passed your use-by date’, ‘You’re too old’ and ‘Younger women are preferred.’ Despite such cutting and belittling remarks, Ms Griffith pressed on with unflinching resolve.
‘My first job was security officer at the Toowoomba Waste Management Centre Security,’ says Ms Griffith. ‘I collected fees from the public entering the rubbish tip.’
Even though Ms Griffith had her sights set much higher, she realised the job was a starting point. Somehow, the rest would be up to her.
‘People wondered why security collected the fees and not council workers,’ says Ms Griffith. ‘The public were not sure how to handle security working at their rubbish tip.’
In hindsight, Ms Griffith realised learning to deal with a defensive public is what equipped her with excellent people management skills. But back then, she was determined to find ways to expand her burgeoning career. So when an opportunity to work for ISS Security (ISS) was advertised in the local newspaper, she jumped at it. That was over 10 years ago.
Now, thanks to her employment with ISS Security, Ms Griffith is well respected as chief security officer at Toowoomba’s court house.
‘ISS have always been really supportive and I’ve been fortunate enough to have had the best mentors in the business,’ says Ms Griffith. ‘Working with ISS has been nothing but exciting and challenging.’
ISS have long specialised in outsourced business processes in sectors where security and safety risks are considered a constant threat—like the Toowoomba court house for example.
During a recent and violent physical attack between two parties at the Toowoomba court house, Ms Griffith ignored the risk of personal injury and stepped in to calmly diffuse the incident. Her actions demonstrated such courage and decisiveness beyond the call of duty she was awarded the prestigious Australian Security Medal of Valour by Federal Attorney-General Robert McClelland at Sydney’s Town Hall, 19 February 2011.
‘I also had the great honor of meeting Dane Hudson, Chief Executive Officer of ISS…and was awarded a medallion of commendation,’ says Griffith.
Being trained and mentored by ISS—a company totally focused on delivering highly effective security services—has no doubt inspired Ms Griffith to reach such personal heights of service and professional integrity. And like many of her colleagues, Ms Griffith believes that to be successful in the security industry you need to be ‘loyal’, ‘honest’, ‘show integrity,’ and above all else, ‘treat people how you would like to be treated yourself ’.
Ms Griffith also believes developing exemplary qualities among security employees comes down to good leadership. The industry needs leaders who can ‘recognise and utilize a person’s strengths’ and identify their weaknesses and build on them ‘to bring them up to the standards required’.
If there was one thing Ms Griffith would like to see changed—that would be…